Being a mom is the most self-sacrificing yet soul-fulfilling job in the world—and each of us does it differently. Some moms stay at home, working tirelessly around the clock to successfully run the household. Others, like myself, work full-time outside the home and transition between our professional and parenting responsibilities before and after work each day. Some moms have a partner to parent with, while others are doing it on their own.
Although our lifestyles, family structures, and parenting decisions may differ, there’s common ground among us. We all remember what it was like to hold our little ones for the first time. To witness that first real smile or belly laugh. To want to keep our babies safe forever, all the while knowing that the future will bring both joys and sorrows, triumphs and struggles.
We all desire the best for our children—for them to be happy and healthy, to feel loved and valued. The reality is, we will face challenges along the way, many of which are probably shared by others. When we support each other on our motherhood journeys, we are better for it. Celebrating our differences and allowing them to enrich rather than divide us will only make us stronger.
Read on for the benefits of uniting in motherhood!
1. We can make new friends
(and deepen current friendships).
Nothing forms a bond faster than a shared experience. There’s just something about discussing projectile spit up and the color of a baby’s stools that really brings people together. In all seriousness, though, finding others who can relate to both the challenges and joys we face as moms can make those tough days so much more bearable. Local mom groups, which you can find online, offer the opportunity to have open dialogue about all things motherhood. These groups often have face-to-face gatherings to give moms the chance to congregate in person and establish meaningful connections. Being willing to put yourself out there might just lead to some unexpected friendships that could enrich your life.
I’m fortunate that many of my friends are in the same life stage as I am. My best friend from college gave birth to a baby girl five months before I had my daughter, while my childhood best friend delivered her first, also a girl, four months afterward. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked about parenting—asking each other for advice or simply contemplating the ways life has changed since our pre-baby days. It’s reassuring to know that I can always send them a quick text to confirm something is “normal.” Our friendships have always been strong, but going through motherhood together has added a new dimension to our relationships.
It’s easy to feel alone in our struggles—especially during those first several months when feedings are constant and a full night of sleep seems elusive. Although we moms are strong and resilient, and we’ll do what it takes to get the job done, that doesn’t mean we need to “tough it out” on our own. The support of other moms can be a lifesaver.
2. We can learn from each other.
Each of us has our own idea of what it means to be an exceptional mom. We all want the best for our babies, but our approaches are rarely identical. There are so many opinions on virtually every aspect of parenting that sometimes it’s easiest just to go with what we know—how we were raised. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but being open to different perspectives can result in fresh ideas that might work well for our families too.
Since becoming a parent, I’ve discovered that single moms are masters of time management. After seeing how challenging it is to parent a child WITH a spouse, I have such an appreciation for those mamas juggling everything without a co-parent. Similarly, military spouses carry the majority of parenting responsibilities during deployments, on top of missing their partners while they’re away. These women are awe-inspiring.
By gleaning what we can from the diverse viewpoints around us, our repertoire of parenting skills will expand. Personally, I’ve learned the value of truly being there to lend a helping hand. When you’re on the receiving end, there’s nothing more appreciated. If we choose to lean into each other and utilize our unique assets, we’ll all profit.
3. We can provide each other breaks
(or date nights!).
There’s nothing as special as spending time with your little love, but sometimes you just need a break. Having the chance to rejuvenate and focus on something other than your parenting responsibilities is necessary for us all once in a while. It helps us retain a sense of our own identities and replenishes our energy levels.
Figuring out the logistics of “me time” looks different for everyone. Some people might have a relative close by who is willing to take the reins in order to provide parents with a break. For others, like myself, who don’t live near family, squeezing in regular outings can be a little more difficult.
A friend of mine approached me with an idea awhile back that has been advantageous to us both: once a month, she’ll come over and watch our daughter while my husband and I get out of the house. On a different night, I’ll go over and watch her two girls so she and her partner can have a date night. No money is exchanged; we simply cover for one another whenever possible because we both understand the importance of having the occasional respite. Get pampered, see a movie, grab some food, or wander around Target. The goal is to have a little time to yourself.
4. We can save ourselves some money.
It’s no secret that raising a child is expensive. At first, there are the hospital bills—for you AND the baby. The money spent on diapers and wipes accumulates month after month into the toddler years. For working parents, childcare tuition can often rival housing expenses.
There are some expenditures that are simply unavoidable. Thankfully, there are others that aren’t. Clothing, toys, and baby gear can be passed from one mom to the next. The generosity of other moms has saved my family a lot of money. One family let us use their Jumparoo, which provided countless hours of entertainment and “exercise” for our daughter. I inherited tubs of toddler clothing and shoes from another mom, and I will pass them on to my newborn niece when our daughter outgrows them. Pay it forward whenever you can. Local mom groups, such as those found on Facebook or Nextdoor, are also great resources for acquiring free or low-cost secondhand goods (especially toys and clothes, which babies outgrow so fast)—and maybe meeting a new mom friend in the process!
5. We can lift each other up.
In today’s world of social media, it can be easy to fall into the comparison trap. Feelings of jealousy and resentment can sprout when we focus on others’ successes and our own perceived flaws. This does nothing but drive us apart. Remember that what others post is not the whole story. Yes, #momlife has its beautiful, photo-worthy moments, but it’s also messy and chaotic. This is true for us all, whether or not it’s shared online for all to see.
When we choose to celebrate one another’s successes and truly be happy for other moms, we all benefit. Being grateful for, rather than envious of, others’ strengths is crucial for creating a conducive environment in which we can all thrive. Give genuine compliments and praise. Celebrate the creativity or generosity you notice other moms exhibiting. There’s already enough negativity in the world; we can make each other’s lives brighter by choosing to uplift rather than tear down.
Sometimes, an encouraging text or a hug is just what you need. The confirmation that you’re doing a great job can go a long way in the midst of trying moments. While I was facing various nursing issues early on with my daughter, positive words from other moms helped tremendously. Simply hearing that there is a light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel can provide the hope needed to make it through the toughest of days. Let’s be there for the other mamas in our lives, cultivating alliances that bring joy and make each other better.
Brave Moms Unite!
It really does take a village to raise a child—especially if you want to hold onto your sanity. If you don’t already have a connection with other moms, try to forge one ASAP and hold tight. Invite others in too. No mom should feel alone in her journey. The truth is, we’re stronger together, so let’s make a pact to remain a cohesive unit, bonded together by the love we have for our babies and our shared (and varied) experiences in motherhood.